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The world's great sermons, Volume 3 by Grenville Kleiser

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Formerly of Yale Divinity School Faculty; Author of "How to Speak in
Public," Etc.

With Assistance from Many of the Foremost Living Preachers and Other


Professor Emeritus of Practical Theology in Yale University






MASSILLON (1663-1742).
The Small Number of the Elect

SAURIN (1677-1730).
Paul Before Felix and Drusilla

EDWARDS (1703-1758).
Spiritual Light

WESLEY (1703-1791).
God's Love to Fallen Man

WHITEFIELD (1714-1770).
The Method of Grace

BLAIR (1718-1800).
The Hour and the Event of all Time

DWIGHT (1752-1817).
The Sovereignty of God

ROBERT HALL (1764-1831).
Marks of Love to God

EVANS (1766-1838).
The Fall and Recovery of Man

Christ's Resurrection an Image of our New Life

MASON (1770-1829).
Messiah's Throne




Jean Baptiste Massillon was born in 1663, at HyŤres, in Provence,
France. He first attracted notice as a pulpit orator by his funeral
sermons as the Archbishop of Vienne, which led to his preferment from
his class of theology at Meaux to the presidency of the Seminary
of Magloire at Paris. His conferences at Paris showed remarkable
spiritual insight and knowledge of the human heart. He was a favorite
preacher of Louis XIV and Louis XV, and after being appointed bishop
of Clermont in 1719 he was also nominated to the French Academy. In
1723 he took final leave of the capital and retired to his see, where
he lived beloved by all until his death in 1742.




_And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet;
and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian_.--Luke iv.,

Every day, my brethren, you continue to ask of us, whether the road to
heaven is really so difficult, and the number of the saved really so
small as we represent? To a question so often proposed, and still
oftener resolved, our Savior answers you here, that there were many
widows in Israel afflicted with famine; but the widow of Sarepta was
alone found worthy the succor of the prophet Elias; that the number
of lepers was great in Israel in the time of the prophet Eliseus; and
that Naaman was only cured by the man of God.

Were I here, my brethren, for the purpose of alarming, rather than
instructing you, I had only to recapitulate what in the holy writings
we find dreadful with regard to this great truth; and, running over
the history of the just, from age to age, show you that, in all times,
the number of the saved has been very small. The family of Noah alone
saved from the general flood; Abraham chosen from among men to be the
sole depositary of the covenant with God; Joshua and Caleb the only
two of six hundred thousand Hebrews who saw the Land of Promise;
Job the only upright man in the land of Uz; Lot, in Sodom. To
representations so alarming, would have succeeded the sayings of the
prophets. In Isaiah you would see the elect as rare as the grapes
which are found after the vintage, and have escaped the search of the
gatherer; as rare as the blades which remain by chance in the field,
and have escaped the scythe of the mower. The evangelist would still
have added new traits to the terrors of these images. I might have
spoken to you of two roads--of which one is narrow, rugged, and the
path of a very small number; the other broad, open, and strewed with
flowers, and almost the general path of men: that everywhere, in the
holy writings, the multitude is always spoken of as forming the party
of the reprobate; while the saved, compared with the rest of mankind,
form only a small flock, scarcely perceptible to the sight. I would
have left you in fears with regard to your salvation; always cruel to
those who have not renounced faith and every hope of being among the
saved. But what would it serve to limit the fruits of this instruction
to the single point of setting forth how few persons will be saved?
Alas! I would make the danger known, without instructing you how to
avoid it; I would allow you, with the prophet, the sword of the wrath
of God suspended over your heads, without assisting you to escape the
threatened blow; I would alarm but not instruct the sinner.

My intention is, to-day, to search for the cause of this small number,
in our morals and manner of life. As every one flatters himself he
will not be excluded, it is of importance to examine if his confidence
be well founded. I wish not, in marking to you the causes which render
salvation so rare, to make you generally conclude that few will be
saved, but to bring you to ask yourselves if, living as you live, you
can hope to be saved. Who am I? What am I doing for heaven? And what
can be my hopes in eternity? I propose no other order in a matter of
such importance. What are the causes which render salvation so rare?
I mean to point out three principal causes, which is the only
arrangement of this discourse. Art, and far-sought reasonings, would
be ill-timed. Oh, attend, therefore, be ye whom ye may. No subject can
be more worthy your attention, since it goes to inform you what may be
the hopes of your eternal destiny.

Few are saved, because in that number we can only comprehend two
descriptions of persons: either those who have been so happy as to
preserve their innocence pure and undefiled, or those who, after
having lost, have regained it by penitence. This is the first cause.
There are only these two ways of salvation: heaven is only open to
the innocent or to the penitent. Now, of which party are you? Are you
innocent? Are you penitent?

Nothing unclean shall enter the kingdom of God. We must consequently
carry there either an innocence unsullied, or an innocence regained.
Now to die innocent is a grace to which few souls can aspire; and to
live penitent is a mercy which the relaxed state of our morals renders
equally rare. Who, indeed, will pretend to salvation by the chain of
innocence? Where are the pure souls in whom sin has never dwelt, and
who have preserved to the end the sacred treasure of grace confided to
them by baptism, and which our Savior will redemand at the awful day
of punishment?

In those happy days when the whole Church was still but an assembly of
saints, it was very uncommon to find an instance of a believer who,
after having received the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and acknowledged
Jesus Christ in the sacrament which regenerates us, fell back to his
former irregularities of life. Ananias and Sapphira were the only
prevaricators in the Church of Jerusalem; that of Corinth had only one
incestuous sinner. Church penitence was then a remedy almost unknown;
and scarcely was there found among these true Israelites one single
leper whom they were obliged to drive from the holy altar, and
separate from communion with his brethren. But since that time the
number of the upright diminishes in proportion, as that of believers
increases. It would appear that the world, pretending now to have
become almost generally Christian, has; brought with it into the
Church its corruptions and its maxims.

Alas! we all go astray, almost from the breast of our mothers! The
first use which we make of our heart is a crime; our first desires.
are passions; and our reason only expands and increases on the wrecks
of our innocence. The earth, says a prophet, is infected by the
corruption of those who inhabit it: all have violated the laws,
changed the ordinances, and broken the alliance which should have
endured forever: all commit sin, and scarcely is there one to be found
who does the work of the Lord. Injustice, calumny, lying, treachery,
adultery, and the blackest crimes have deluged the earth. The brother
lays snares for his brother; the father is divided from his children;
the husband from his wife: there is no tie which a vile interest does
not sever. Good faith and probity are no longer virtues except among
the simple people. Animosities are endless; reconciliations are
feints, and never is a former enemy regarded as a brother: they tear,
they devour each other. Assemblies are no longer but for the purpose
of public and general censure. The purest virtue is no longer a
protection from the malignity of tongues. Gaming is become either
a trade, a fraud, or a fury. Repasts--those innocent ties of
society--degenerate into excesses of which we dare not speak. Our age
witnesses horrors with which our forefathers were unacquainted.

Behold, then, already one path of salvation shut to the generality of
men. All have erred. Be ye whom ye may, listen to me now, the time
has been when sin reigned over you. Age may perhaps have calmed your
passions, but what was your youth? Long and habitual infirmities
may perhaps have disgusted you with the world; but what use did you
formerly make of the vigor of health? A sudden inspiration of grace
may have turned your heart, but do you not most fervently entreat
that every moment prior to that inspiration may be effaced from the
remembrance of the Lord?

But with what am I taking up time? We are all sinners, O my God! and
Thou knowest our hearts! What we know of our errors is, perhaps, in
Thy sight, the most pardonable; and we all allow that by innocence
we have no claim to salvation. There remains, therefore, only one
resource, which is penitence. After our shipwreck, say the saints, it
is the timely plank which alone can conduct us into port; there is no
other means of salvation for us. Be ye whom ye may, prince or subject,
high or low, penitence alone can save you. Now permit me to ask where
are the penitent? You will find more, says a holy father, who have
never fallen, than who, after their fall, have raised themselves by
true repentance. This is a terrible saying; but do not let us carry
things too far: the truth is sufficiently dreadful without adding new
terrors to it by vain declamation.

Let us alone examine as to whether the majority of us have a right,
through penitence, to salvation. What is a penitent? According to
Tertullian, a penitent is a believer who feels every moment his former
unhappiness in forsaking and losing his God; one who has his guilt
incessantly before his eyes; who finds everywhere the traces and
remembrance of it.

A penitent is a man instrusted by God with judgment against himself;
one who refuses himself the most innocent pleasures because he had
formerly indulged in those the most criminal; one who puts up with the
most necessary gratification with pain; one who regards his body as an
enemy whom it is necessary to conquer--as an unclean vessel which must
be purified--as an unfaithful debtor of whom it is proper to exact to
the last farthing. A penitent regards himself as a criminal condemned
to death, because he is no longer worthy of life. In the loss of
riches or health he sees only a withdrawal of favors that he had
formerly abused: in the humiliations which happen to him, only the
pains of his guilt: in the agonies with which he is racked, only the
commencement of those punishments he has justly merited. Such is a

But I again ask you--Where, among us, are penitents of this
description? Now look around you. I do not tell you to judge your
brethren, but to examine what are the manners and morals of those who
surround you. Nor do I speak of those open and avowed sinners who have
thrown off even the appearance of virtue. I speak only of those who,
like yourselves, live as most live, and whose actions present nothing
to the public view particularly shameful or depraved. They are sinners
and they admit it: you are not innocent, and you confess it. Now are
they penitent? or are you? Age, vocation, more serious employments,
may perhaps have checked the sallies of youth. Even the bitterness
which the Almighty has made attendant on our passions, the deceits,
the treacheries of the world, an injured fortune, with ruined
constitution, may have cooled the ardor, and confined the irregular
desires of your hearts. Crimes may have disgusted you even with sin
itself--for passions gradually extinguish themselves. Time, and
the natural inconstancy of the heart will bring these about; yet,
nevertheless, tho detached from sin by incapability, you are no nearer
your God. According to the world you are become more prudent, more
regular, to a greater extent what it calls men of probity, more exact
in fulfilling your public or private duties. But you are not penitent.
You have ceased your disorders but you have not expiated them. You are
not converted: this great stroke, this grand operation on the heart,
which regenerates man, has not yet been felt by you. Nevertheless,
this situation, so truly dangerous, does not alarm you. Sins which
have never been washed away by sincere repentance, and consequently
never obliterated from the book of life, appear in your eyes as no
longer existing; and you will tranquilly leave this world in a state
of impenitence, so much the more dangerous as you will die without
being sensible of your danger.

What I say here is not merely a rash expression, or an emotion of
zeal; nothing is more real, or more exactly true: it is the situation
of almost all men, even the wisest and most esteemed of the world.
The morality of the younger stages of life is always lax, if not
licentious. Age, disgust, and establishment for life, fix the
heart and withdraw it from debauchery: but where are those who are
converted? Where are those who expiate their crimes by tears of sorrow
and true repentance? Where are those who, having begun as sinners, end
as penitents? Show me, in your manner of living, the smallest trace of
penitence! Are your graspings at wealth and power, your anxieties
to attain the favor of the great--and by these means an increase of
employments and influence--are these proofs of it? Would you wish
to reckon even your crimes as virtues?--that the sufferings of your
ambition, pride, and avarice, should discharge you from an obligation
which they themselves have imposed? You are penitent to the world, but
are you so to Jesus Christ? The infirmities with which God afflicts
you, the enemies He raised up against you, the disgraces and losses
with which He tries you--do you receive them all as you ought, with
humble submission to His will? Or, rather, far from finding in them
occasions of penitence, do you not turn them into the objects of new
crimes? It is the duty of an innocent soul to receive with submission
the chastisements of the Almighty; to discharge with courage the
painful duties of the station allotted to him, and to be faithful to
the laws of the gospel. But do sinners owe nothing beyond this? And
yet they pretend to salvation! Upon what claim? To say that you are
innocent before God, your own consciences will witness against you. To
endeavor to persuade yourselves that you are penitent, you dare not;
and you would condemn yourselves by your own mouths. Upon what then
dost thou depend, O man! who thus livest so tranquil?

These, my brethren, as I have already told you, are not merely advices
and pious arts; they are the most essential of our obligations. But,
alas! who fulfils them? Who even knows them? Ah! my brethren, did you
know how far the title you bear, of Christian, engages you; could you
comprehend the sanctity of your state, the hatred of the world, of
yourself, and of everything which is not of God that it enjoys, that
gospel life, that constant watching, that guard over the passions, in
a word, that conformity with Jesus Christ crucified, which it exacts
of you--could you comprehend it, could you remember that you ought to
love God with all your heart, and all your strength, so that a single
desire that has not connection with Him defiles you--you would appear
a monster in your own sight. How! you would exclaim. Duties so holy,
and morals so profane! A vigilance so continual, and a life so
careless and dissipated! A love of God so pure, so complete, so
universal, and a heart the continual prey of a thousand impulses,
either foreign or criminal! If thus it is, who, O my God! will be
entitled to salvation? Few indeed, I fear, my dear hearers! At least
it will not be you (unless a change takes place) nor those who
resemble you; it will not be the multitude!

Who shall be saved? Those who work out their salvation with fear and
trembling; who live in the world without indulging in its vices. Who
shall be saved? That Christian woman who, shut up in the circle of her
domestic duties, rears up her children in faith and in piety; divides
her heart only between her Savior and her husband; is adorned with
delicacy and modesty; sits not down in the assemblies of vanity; makes
not a law of the ridiculous customs of the world, but regulates those
customs by the law of God; and makes virtue appear more amiable by her
rank and her example. Who shall be saved? That believer who, in
the relaxation of modern times, imitates the manners of the first
Christian--whose hands are clean and his heart pure--who is
watchful--who hath not lifted up his soul to vanity, but who, in the
midst of the dangers of the great world, continually applies himself
to purify it; just--who swears not deceitfully against his neighbor,
nor is indebted to fraudulent ways for the aggrandizement of his
fortune; generous--who with benefits repays the enemy who sought his
ruin; sincere--who sacrifices not the truth to a vile interest, and
knows not the part of rendering himself agreeable by betraying his
conscience; charitable--who makes his house and interest the refuge of
his fellow creatures, and himself the consolation of the afflicted;
regards his wealth as the property of the poor; humble in
affliction--a Christian under injuries, and penitent even in
prosperity. Who will merit salvation? You, my dear hearer, if you will
follow these examples; for such are the souls to be saved. Now these
assuredly do not form the greatest number. While you continue,
therefore, to live like the multitude, it is a striking proof that you
disregard your salvation.

These, my brethren, are truths which should make us tremble! nor are
they those vague ones which are told to all men, and which none apply
to themselves. Perhaps there is not in this assembly an individual who
may not say of himself, "I live like the great number; like those of
my rank, age, and situation; I am lost, should I die in this path."
Now, can anything be more capable of alarming a soul, in whom some
remains of care for his salvation shall exist? It is the multitude,
nevertheless, who tremble not. There is only a small number of the
just who work out severally their salvation with fear and trembling.
All the rest are tranquil. After having lived with the multitude, they
flatter themselves they shall be particularized at death. Every one
augurs favorably for himself, and vainly imagines that he shall be an

On this account it is, my brethren, that I confine myself to you who
are now here assembled. I include not the rest of men; but consider
you as alone existing on the earth. The idea which fills and terrifies
me is this--I figure to myself the present as your last hour, and the
end of the world! the heavens opening above your heads--the Savior, in
all His glory, about to appear in the midst of His temple--you only
assembled here as trembling criminals, to wait His coming, and hear
the sentence, either of life eternal, or everlasting death! for it is
vain to flatter yourselves that you shall die more innocent than you
are at this hour. All those desires of change with which you are
amused, will continue to amuse you till death arrives. The experience
of all ages proves it. The only difference you have to expect will
most likely be only a larger balance against you than what you would
have to answer for now; and from what would be your destiny, were you
to be judged in this moment, you may almost decide upon what it will
be at death. Now, I ask you--and, connecting my own lot with yours, I
ask it with dread--were Jesus Christ to appear in this temple, in the
midst of this assembly, to judge us, to make the awful separation
between the sheep and the goats, do you believe that the most of us
would be placed at His right hand? Do you believe that the number
would at least be equal? Do you believe that there would even be found
ten upright and faithful servants of the Lord, when formerly five
cities could not furnish that number? I ask you! You know not! I know
it not! Thou alone, O my God, knowest who belong to Thee.

But if we know not who belong to Him, at least we know that sinners
do not. Now, who are the just and faithful assembled here at present?
Titles and dignities avail nothing; you are stript of all these in the
presence of your Savior! Who are they? Many sinners who wish not to be
converted; many more who wish, but always put it off; many others who
are only converted in appearance, and again fall back to their former
course; in a word, a great number, who flatter themselves they have no
occasion for conversion. This is the party of the reprobate! Ah! my
brethren, cut off from this assembly these four classes of sinners,
for they will be cut off at the great day! And now stand forth ye
righteous:--where are ye? O God, where are Thine elect! What remains
as Thy portion!

My brethren, our ruin is almost certain! Yet we think not of it! If in
this terrible separation, which will one day take place; there should
be but one sinner in the assembly on the side of the reprobate, and a
voice from heaven should assure us of it, without particularizing him,
who of us would not tremble, lest he be the unfortunate and devoted
wretch? Who of us would not immediately apply to his conscience, to
examine if its crimes merited not this punishment? Who of us, seized
with dread, would not demand of our Savior, as did the apostles,
crying out, "Lord, is it I?" And should a small respite be allowed
to our prayers, who of us would not use every effort, by tears,
supplication, and sincere repentance, to avert the misfortune?

Are we in our senses, my dear hearers? Perhaps among all who listen to
me now, ten righteous ones would not be found. It may be fewer still.
What do I perceive, O my God! I dare not, with a fixt eye, regard the
depths of Thy judgments and justice! Not more than one, perhaps,
would be found among us all! And this danger affects you not, my dear
hearer! You persuade yourself that in this great number who shall
perish, you will be the happy individual! You, you have less reason,
perhaps, than any other to believe it! You, upon whom alone the
sentence of death should fall, were only one of all who hear me to
suffer! Great God! how little are the terrors of Thy law known to the
world? In all ages the just have shuddered with dread in reflecting on
the severity and extent of Thy judgments, touching the destinies of
men! Alas! what are they laying up in store for the sons of men!

But what are we to conclude from these awful truths? That all must
despair of salvation? God forbid! The impious alone, to quiet his own
feelings in his debaucheries, endeavors to persuade himself that all
men shall perish as well as he. This idea ought not to be the fruit of
the present discourse. It is intended to undeceive you with regard to
the general error, that any one may do whatever is done by others. To
convince you that, in order to merit salvation, you must distinguish
yourself from the rest; that in the midst of the world you are to live
for God's glory, and not follow after the multitude.

When the Jews were led in captivity from Judea to Babylon, a little
before they quitted their own country, the prophet Jeremiah, whom the
Lord had forbidden to leave Jerusalem, spoke thus to them: "Children
of Israel, when you shall arrive at Babylon, you will behold the
inhabitants of that country, who carry upon their shoulders gods of
silver and gold. All the people will prostrate themselves and adore
them. But you, far from allowing yourselves, by these examples, to be
led to impiety, say to yourselves in secret, It is Thou, O Lord! whom
we ought to adore."

Let me now finish by addressing to you the same words.

At your departure from this temple, you go to enter into another
Babylon. You go to see the idols of gold and silver, before which all
men prostrate themselves. You go to regain the vain objects of human
passions, wealth, glory, and pleasure, which are the gods of this
world and which almost all men adore. You will see those abuses which
all the world permits, those errors which custom authorizes, and those
debaucheries, which an infamous fashion has almost constituted as
laws. Then, my dear hearer, if you wish to be of the small number of
true Israelites, say, in the secrecy of your heart, "It is Thou alone,
O my God! whom we ought to adore. I wish not to have connection with
a people which know Thee not; I will have no other law than Thy holy
law; the gods which this foolish multitude adore are not gods; they
are the work of the hands of men; they will perish with them; Thou
alone, O my God! art immortal; and Thou alone deservest to be adored.
The customs of Babylon have no connection with the holy laws of
Jerusalem. I will continue to worship Thee, with that small number
of the children of Abraham which still, in the midst of an infidel
nation, composes Thy people; with them I will turn all my desires
toward the holy Zion. The singularity of my manners will be regarded
as a weakness; but blest weakness, O my God! which will give me
strength to resist the torrent of customs, and the seduction of
example. Thou wilt be my God in the midst of Babylon, as Thou wilt one
day be in Jerusalem above!"

Ah! the time of the captivity will at last expire. Thou wilt call to
Thy remembrance Abraham and David. Thou wilt deliver Thy people. Thou
wilt transport us to the holy city. Then wilt Thou alone reign over
Israel, and over the nations which at present know Thee not. All being
destroyed, all the empires of the earth, all the monuments of human
pride annihilated, and Thou alone remaining eternal, we then shall
know that Thou art the Lord of hosts, and the only God to be adored.

Behold the fruit which you ought to reap from this discourse! Live
apart. Think, without ceasing, that the great number work their own
destruction. Regard as nothing all customs of the earth, unless
authorized by the law of God, and remember that holy men in all ages
have been looked upon as a peculiar people.

It is thus that, after distinguishing yourselves from the sinful on
earth, you will be gloriously distinguished from them in eternity!




Jacques Saurin, the famous French Protestant preacher of the
seventeenth century, was born at Nismes in 1677. He studied at Geneva
and was appointed to the Walloon Church in London in 1701. The scene
of his great life work was, however, the Hague, where he settled in
1705. He has been compared with Bossuet, tho he never attained the
graceful style and subtilty which characterize the "Eagle of Meaux."
The story is told of the famous scholar Le Clerc that he long refused
to hear Saurin preach, on the ground that he gave too much attention
to mere art. One day he consented to hear him on the condition that he
should be permitted to sit behind the pulpit where he could not see
his oratorical action. At the close of the sermon he found himself in
front of the pulpit, with tears in his eyes. Saurin died in 1730.




_And before certain days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla,
which was a Jewess, he sent for Paul, and heard him concerning the
faith of Christ. And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and
judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this
time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee_.--Acts
xxiv., 24, 25.

My brethren, tho the kingdoms of the righteous be not of this world,
they present, however, amidst their meanness, marks of dignity and
power. They resemble Jesus Christ. He humbled Himself so far as to
take the form of a servant, but frequently exercised the rights of a
sovereign. From the abyss of humiliation to which He condescended,
emanations of the Godhead were seen to proceed. Lord of nature, He
commanded the winds and seas. He bade the storm and tempest subside.
He restored health to the sick, and life to the dead. He imposed
silence on the rabbis; He embarrassed Pilate on the throne; and
disposed of Paradise at the moment He Himself was pierced with the
nails, and fixt on the cross. Behold the portrait of believers! "They
are dead. Their life is hid with Christ in God." (Col. iii., 3.) "If
they had hope only in this life, they were of all men most miserable."
(I Cor. xv., 19.) Nevertheless, they show I know not what superiority
of birth. Their glory is not so concealed but we sometimes perceive
its luster! just as the children of a king, when unknown and in
a distant province, betray in their conversation and carriage
indications of illustrious descent.

We might illustrate this truth by numerous instances. Let us attend to
that in our text. There we shall discover that association of humility
and grandeur, of reproach and glory, which constitutes the condition
of the faithful while on earth. Behold St. Paul, a Christian, an
apostle, a saint. See him hurried from tribunal to tribunal, from
province to province; sometimes before the Romans, sometimes before
the Jews, sometimes before the high-priest of the synagog, and
sometimes before the procurator of Caesar. See him conducted from
Jerusalem to Caesarea, and summoned to appear before Felix. In all
these traits, do you not recognize the Christian walking in the narrow
way, the way of tribulation, marked by his Master's feet? But consider
him nearer still. Examine his discourse, look at his countenance;
there you will see a fortitude, a courage, and a dignity which
constrain you to acknowledge that there was something really grand in
the person of St. Paul. He preached Jesus Christ at the very moment
he was persecuted for having preached Him. He preached even when in
chains. He did more; he attacked his judge on the throne. He reasoned,
he enforced, he thundered. He seemed already to exercise the function
of judging the world, which God has reserved for His saints. He made
Felix tremble. Felix felt himself borne away by a superior force.
Unable to hear St. Paul any longer without appalling fears, he sent
him away. "After certain days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla,
he sent for Paul, and heard him concerning the faith in Christ," etc.

We find here three considerations which claim our attention: An
enlightened preacher, who discovers a very peculiar discernment in the
selection of his subject; a conscience appalled and confounded on the
recollection of its crimes and of that awful judgment where they must
be weighed, a sinner alarmed, but not converted; a sinner who desires
to be saved, but delays his conversion: a case, alas! of but too
common occurrence.

You perceive already, my brethren, the subject of this discourse:
first, that St. Paul reasoned before Felix and Drusilla of
righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come; second, that Felix
trembled; third, that he sent the apostle away; three considerations
which shall divide this discourse. May it produce on your hearts, on
the hearts of Christians, the same effects St. Paul produced on the
soul of this heathen; but may it have a happier influence on your
lives. Amen.

Paul preached before Felix and Drusilla "on righteousness, temperance,
and judgment to come." This is the first subject of discussion.
Before, however, we proceed further with our remarks, we must first
sketch the character of this Felix and this Drusilla, which will serve
as a basis to the first proposition.

After the scepter was departed from Judah, and the Jewish nation
subjugated by Pompey, the Roman emperors governed the country by
procurators. Claudius filled the imperial throne while St. Paul was
at Caesarea. This emperor had received a servile education from his
grandmother Lucia, and from his mother Antonia; and having been
brought up in obsequious meanness, evinced, on his elevation to the
empire, marks of the inadequate care which had been bestowed on his
infancy. He had neither courage nor dignity of mind. He who was raised
to sway the Roman scepter, and consequently to govern the civilized
world, abandoned his judgment to his freedmen, and gave them a
complete ascendency over his mind. Felix was one of those freedmen.
"He exercised in Judea the imperial functions with a mercenary soul."
Voluptuousness and avarice were the predominant vices of his heart. We
have a proof of his avarice immediately after our text, where it is
said he sent for Paul,--not to hear him concerning the truth of the
gospel which this apostle had preached with so much power; not to
inquire whether this religion, against which the Jews raised the
standard, was contrary to the interest of the State; but because he
hoped to have received money for his liberation. Here is the effect of

Josephus recited an instance of his voluptuousness. It is his marriage
with Drusilla. She was a Jewess, as is remarked in our text. King
Azizus, her former husband, was a heathen; and in order to gain her
affections, he had conformed to the most rigorous ceremonies of
Judaism. Felix saw her, and became enamored of her beauty. He
conceived for her a violent passion; and in defiance of the sacred
ties which had united her to her husband, he resolved to become master
of her person. His addresses were received. Drusilla violated her
former engagements, and chose rather to contract with Felix an
illegitimate marriage than to adhere to the chaste ties which united
her to Azizus. Felix the Roman, Felix the procurator of Judea and the
favorite of Caesar appeared to her a noble acquisition. It is indeed a
truth, we may here observe, that grandeur and fortune are charms which
mortals find the greatest difficulty to resist, and against which the
purest virtue has need to be armed with all its constancy. Recollect
these two characters of Felix and Drusilla. St. Paul, before those
two personages, treated concerning "The faith in Christ"; that is,
concerning the Christian religion, of which Jesus Christ is the sum
and substance, the author and the end: and from the numerous doctrines
of Christianity, he selected "righteousness, temperance, and judgment
to come."

Here is, my brethren, an admirable text; but a text selected with
discretion. Fully to comprehend it, recollect the character we have
given of Felix. He was covetous, luxurious, and governor of Judea. St.
Paul selected three subjects, correspondent to the characteristics.
Addressing an avaricious man, he treated of righteousness. Addressing
the governor of Judea, one of those persons who think themselves
independent and responsible to none but themselves for their conduct,
he treated of "judgment to come."

But who can here supply the brevity of the historian, and report the
whole of what the apostle said to Felix on these important points? It
seems to me that I hear him enforcing those important truths he has
left us in his works, and placing in the fullest luster those divine
maxims interspersed in our Scriptures. "He reasoned of righteousness."
There he maintained the right of the widow and the orphan. There he
demonstrated that kings and magistrates are established to maintain
the rights of the people, and not to indulge their own caprice; that
the design of the supreme authority is to make the whole happy by the
vigilance of one, and not to gratify one at the expense of all; that
it is meanness of mind to oppress the wretched, who have no defense
but cries and tears; and that nothing is so unworthy of an enlightened
man as that ferocity with which some are inspired by dignity, and
which obstructs their respect for human nature, when undisguised by
worldly pomp; that nothing is so noble as goodness and grandeur,
associated in the same character; that this is the highest felicity;
that in some sort it transforms the soul into the image of God; who,
from the high abodes of majesty in which He dwells, surrounded with
angels and cherubim, deigns to look down on this mean world which we
inhabit, and "Leaves not Himself without witness, doing good to all."

"He reasoned of temperance." There he would paint the licentious
effects of voluptuousness. There he would demonstrate how opposite is
this propensity to the spirit of the gospel; which everywhere enjoins
retirement, mortification, and self-denial. He would show how it
degrades the finest characters who have suffered it to predominate.
Intemperance renders the mind incapable of reflection. It debases
the courage. It debilitates the mind. It softens the soul. He would
demonstrate the meanness of a man called to preside over a great
people, who exposes his foibles to public view; not having resolution
to conceal, much less to vanquish them. With Drusilla, he would make
human motives supply the defects of divine; with Felix, he would
make divine motives supply the defects of human. He would make this
shameless woman feel that nothing on earth is more odious than a woman
destitute of honor, that modesty is an attribute of the sex; that an
attachment, uncemented by virtue, can not long subsist; that those who
receive illicit favors are the first, according to the fine remark of
a sacred historian, to detest the indulgence: "The hatred wherewith
'Ammon, the son of David,' hated his sister, after the gratification
of his brutal passion, was greater than the love wherewith he had
loved her" (II Sam. xiii., 15). He would make Felix perceive that,
however the depravity of the age might seem to tolerate a criminal
intercourse with persons of the other sex, with God, who has called us
all to equal purity, the crime was not less heinous.

"He reasoned," in short, "of judgment to come." And here he would
magnify his ministry. When our discourses are regarded as connected
only with the present period, their force, I grant, is of no avail.
We speak for a Master who has left us clothed with infirmities, which
discover no illustrious marks of Him by whom we are sent. We have only
our voice, only our exhortations, only our entreaties. Nature is not
averted at our pleasure. The visitations of Heaven do not descend at
our command to punish your indolence and revolts: that power was
very limited, even to the apostle. The idea of a future state, the
solemnities of a general judgment, supply our weakness, and St. Paul
enforced this motive; he proved its reality, he delineated its luster,
he displayed its pomp. He resounded in the ears of Felix the noise,
the voices, the trumpets. He showed him the small and the great, the
rich man and Lazarus, Felix the favorite of Caesar, and Paul the
captive of Felix, awakened by that awful voice: "Arise, ye dead, and
come to judgment."

But not to be precipitate in commending the apostle's preaching. Its
encomiums will best appear by attending to its effects on the mind of
Felix. St. Jerome wished, concerning a preacher of his time, that the
tears of his audience might compose the eulogy of his sermons. We
shall find in the tears of Felix occasion to applaud the eloquence
of our apostle. We shall find that his discourses were thunder and
lightning in the congregation, as the Greeks used to say concerning
one of their orators. While St. Paul preached, Felix felt I know not
what agitations in his mind. The recollection of his past life; the
sight of his present sins; Drusilla, the object of his passion and
subject of his crime; the courage of St. Paul--all terrified him.
His heart burned while that disciple of Jesus Christ expounded the
Scriptures. The word of God was quick and powerful. The apostle,
armed with the two-edged sword, divided the soul, the joints, and the
marrow, carried conviction to the heart. Felix trembled, adds
our historian, Felix trembled! The fears of Felix are our second

What a surprizing scene, my brethren, is here presented to your view.
The governor trembled, and the captive spoke without dismay. The
captive made the governor tremble. The governor shuddered in the
presence of the captive. It would not be surprizing, brethren, if we
should make an impression on your hearts (and we shall do so, indeed,
if our ministry is not, as usual, a sound of empty words); it would
not be surprizing if we should make some impression on the hearts of
our hearers. This sanctuary, these solemnities, these groans, this
silence, these arguments, these efforts,--all aid our ministry, and
unite to convince and persuade you. But here is an orator destitute of
these extraneous aids: behold him without any ornament but the truth
he preached. What do I say? that he was destitute of extraneous aids?
See him in a situation quite the reverse,--a captive, loaded with
irons, standing before his judge. Yet he made Felix tremble. Felix
trembled! Whence proceeded this fear, and this confusion? Nothing is
more worthy of your inquiry. Here we must stop for a moment: follow
us while we trace this fear to its source. We shall consider the
character of Felix under different views; as a heathen, imperfectly
acquainted with a future judgment, and the life to come; as a prince,
or governor, accustomed to see every one humble at his feet; as an
avaricious magistrate, loaded with extortions and crimes; in short, as
a voluptuous man, who has never restricted the gratification of his
senses. These are so many reasons of Felix's fears.

First, we shall consider Felix as a heathen, imperfectly acquainted
with a future judgment and the life to come: I say, imperfectly
acquainted, and not as wholly ignorant, the heathens having the "work
of the law written in their hearts" (Rom. ii., 15). The force of habit
had corrupted nature, but had not effaced its laws. They acknowledged
a judgment to come, but their notions were confused concerning its

Such were the principles of Felix, or rather such were the
imperfections of his principles, when he heard this discourse of St.
Paul. You may infer his fears from his character. Figure to
yourselves a man hearing for the first time the maxims of equity and
righteousness inculcated in the gospel. Figure to yourselves a man who
heard corrected the immorality of pagan theology; what was doubtful,
illustrated; and what was right, enforced. See a man who knew of no
other God but the incestuous Jupiter, the lascivious Venus, taught
that he must appear before Him, in whose presence the seraphim veil
their faces, and the heavens are not clean. Behold a man, whose
notions were confused concerning the state of souls after death,
apprized that God shall judge the world in righteousness. See a man
who saw described the smoke, the fire, the chains of darkness, the
outer darkness, the lake of fire and brimstone; and who saw them
delineated by one animated by the Spirit of God. What consternation
must have been excited by these terrific truths!

This we are incapable adequately of comprehending. We must surmount
the insensibility acquired by custom. It is but too true that our
hearts--instead of being imprest by these truths, in proportion to
their discussion--become more obdurate. We hear them without alarm,
having so frequently heard them before. But if, like Felix, we had
been brought up in the darkness of paganism, and if another Paul had
come and opened our eyes, and unveiled those sacred terrors, how
exceedingly should we have feared! This was the case with Felix. He
perceived the bandage which conceals the sight of futurity drop in a
moment. He heard St. Paul, that herald of grace and ambassador to the
Gentiles, he heard him reason on temperance and a judgment to come.
His soul was amazed; his heart trembled; his knees smote one against

Amazing effects, my brethren, of conscience! Evident argument of the
vanity of those gods whom idolatry adorns after it has given them
form! Jupiter and Mercury, it is true, had their altars in the temples
of the heathens; but the God of heaven and earth has His tribunal in
the heart: and, while idolatry presents its incense to sacrilegious
and incestuous deities, the God of heaven and earth reveals His
terrors to the conscience, and there loudly condemns both incest and

Secondly, consider Felix as a prince; and you will find in this second
office a second cause of his fear. When we perceive the great men of
the earth devoid of every principle of religion, and even ridiculing
those very truths which are the objects of our faith, we feel that
faith to waver. They excite a certain suspicion in the mind that our
sentiments are only prejudices, which have become rooted in man,
brought up in the obscurity of humble life. Here is the apology of
religion. The Caligulas, the Neros, those potentates of the universe,
have trembled in their turn as well as the meanest of their subjects.
This independence of mind, so conspicuous among libertines, is
consequently an art,--not of disengaging themselves from prejudices,
but of shutting their eyes against the light, and of extinguishing the
purest sentiments of the heart. Felix, educated in a court fraught
with the maxims of the great instantly ridicules the apostle's
preaching. St. Paul, undismayed, attacks him, and finds a conscience
concealed in his bosom: the very dignity of Felix is constrained to
aid our apostle by adding weight to his ministry. He demolishes
the edifice of Felix's pride. He shows that if a great nation was
dependent on his pleasure, he himself was dependent on a Sovereign in
whose presence the kings of the earth are as nothing. He proves that
dignities are so very far from exempting men from the judgment of God
that, for this very reason, their account becomes the more weighty,
riches being a trust which Heaven has committed to the great: and
"where much is given, much is required." He makes him feel this awful
truth, that princes are responsible, not only for their own souls,
but also for those of their subjects; their good or bad example
influencing, for the most part, the people committed to their care.

See then Felix in one moment deprived of his tribunal. The judge
became a party. He saw himself rich and in need of nothing; and yet he
was "blind, and naked, and poor." He heard a voice from the God of the
whole earth, saying unto him, "Thou profane and wicked prince, remove
the diadem and take off the crown. I will overturn, overturn, overturn
it, and it shall be no more" (Ezekiel xxi., 25-27). "Tho thou exalt
thyself as the eagle, and tho thou set thy nest among the stars,
thence will I bring thee down, saith the Lord" (Obadiah, 4). Neither
the dignity of governor, nor the favor of Caesar, nor all the glory of
empire shall deliver thee out of My hand.

Thirdly, I restrict myself, my brethren, as much as possible in order
to execute without exceeding my limits the plan I have conceived;
and proceed to consider Felix as an avaricious man: to find in this
disposition a further cause of his fear. Felix was avaricious, and St.
Paul instantly transported him into a world in which avarice shall
receive its appropriate and most severe punishment. For you know that
the grand test by which we shall be judged is charity. "I was hungry,
and ye gave me meat"; and of all the constructions of charity
covetousness is the most obstinate and insurmountable.

This unhappy propensity renders us insensible of our neighbor's
necessities. It magnifies the estimate of our wants; it diminishes the
wants of others. It persuades us that we have need of all, that others
have need of nothing. Felix began to perceive the iniquity of this
passion, and to feel that he was guilty of double idolatry: idolatry,
in morality, idolatry in religion; idolatry in having offered incense
to gods, who were not the makers of heaven and earth; idolatry in
having offered incense to Mammon. For the Scriptures teach, and
experience confirms, that "covetousness is idolatry." The covetous man
is not a worshiper of the true God. Gold and silver are the divinities
he adores. His heart is with his treasure. Here then is the portrait
of Felix: a portrait drawn by St. Paul in the presence of Felix, and
which reminded this prince of innumerable prohibitions, innumerable
frauds, innumerable extortions; of the widow and the orphan he
opprest. Here is the cause of Felix's fears. According to an
expression of St. James, the "rust of his gold and silver began to
witness against him, and to eat his flesh as with fire" (James v., 3).

Fourthly, consider Felix as a voluptuous man. Here is the final cause
of his fear. Without repeating all we have said on the depravity of
this passion, let one remark suffice, that, if the torments of hell
are terrible at all, they must especially be so to the voluptuous. The
voluptuous man never restricts his sensual gratification; his soul
dies on the slightest approach of pain. What a terrific impression
must not the thought of judgment make on such a character. Shall I,
accustomed to indulgence and pleasure, become a prey to the worm that
dieth not and fuel to the fire which is not quenched? Shall I, who
avoid pain with so much caution, be condemned to eternal torments?
Shall I have neither delicious meats nor voluptuous delights? This
body, my idol, which I habituate to so much delicacy, shall it be
"cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, whose smoke ascendeth up
forever and ever?" And this effeminate habit I have of refining on
pleasure, will it render me only the more sensible of my destruction
and anguish?

Such are the traits of Felix's character; such are the causes of
Felix's fear. Happy, if his fear had produced that "godly sorrow, and
that repentance unto salvation not to be repented of." Happy if the
fear of hell had induced him to avoid its torments. But, ah no! he
feared, and yet persisted in the causes of his fear. He trembled,
yet said to St. Paul, "Go thy way for this time." This is our last

How preposterous, my brethren, is the sinner! What absurdities does
he cherish in his heart! For, in short, had the doctrines St. Paul
preached to Felix been the productions of his brain:--had the thought
of a future judgment been a chimera, whence proceeded the fears of
Felix? Why was he so weak as to admit this panic of terror? If, on the
contrary, Paul had truth and argument on his side, why did Felix send
him away? Such are the contradictions of the sinner. He wishes; he
revolts; he denies; he grants; he trembles; and says, "Go thy way for
this time." Speak to him concerning the truths of religion, open hell
to his view, and you will see him affected, devout, and appalled:
follow him in life, and you will find that these truths have no
influence whatever on his conduct.

But are we not mistaken concerning Felix? Did not the speech of St.
Paul make a deeper impression upon him than we seem to allow? He sent
the apostle away, it is true, but it was "for this time" only. And
who can censure this delay? The infirmities of human nature require
relaxation and repose. Felix could afterward recall him. "Go thy way
for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will send for thee."

It pains me, I confess, my brethren, in entering on this head of my
discourse, that I should exhibit to you in the person of Felix the
portrait of whom? Of wicked men? Alas! of nearly the whole of this
assembly; most of whom seem to us living in negligence and vice,
running with the children of this world "to the same excess of riot."
One would suppose that they had already made their choice, having
embraced one or the other of these notions: either that religion is
a fantom, or that, all things considered, it is better to endure the
torments of hell than to be restricted to the practise of virtue. Oh
no! that is not their notion. Ask the worse among them. Ask whether
they have renounced their salvation. You will not find an individual
who will say that he has renounced it. Ask them again whether they
think it attainable by following this way of life. They will answer,
No. Ask them afterward how they reconcile things so opposite as their
life and their hopes. They will answer that they are resolved to
reform, and by and by they will enter on the work. They will say,
as Felix said to St. Paul, "Go thy way for this time; when I have a
convenient season, I will call for thee." Nothing is less wise than
this delay. At a future period I will reform. But who has assured me
that at a future period I shall have opportunities of conversion? Who
has assured me that God will continue to call me, and that another
Paul shall thunder in my ears?

I will reform at a future period. But who has told me that God at a
future period will accompany His word with the powerful aids of grace?
While Paul may plant and Apollos may water, is it not God who gives
the increase? How then can I flatter myself that the Holy Spirit
will continue to knock at the door of my heart after I shall have so
frequently obstructed His admission?

I will reform in future. But who has told me that I shall ever desire
to be converted? Do not habits become confirmed in proportion as they
are indulged? And is not an inveterate evil very difficult to cure? If
I can not bear the excision of a slight gangrene, how shall I sustain
the operation when the wound is deep?

I will reform in future! But who has told me that I shall live to
a future period? Does not death advance every moment with gigantic
strides? Does he not assail the prince in his palace and the peasant
in his cottage? Does he not send before him monitors and messengers:
acute pains, which wholly absorb the soul; deliriums, which render
reason of no avail; deadly stupors, which benumb the brightest and
most piercing geniuses? And what is still more awful, does He not
daily come without either warning or messenger? Does He not snatch
away this man without allowing him time to be acquainted with the
essentials of religion; and that man, without the restitution of
riches ill acquired; and the other, before he is reconciled to his

Instead of saying "Go thy way for this time" we should say, Stay for
this time. Stay, while the Holy Spirit is knocking at the door of my
heart; stay, while my conscience is alarmed; stay, while I yet live;
"while it is called to-day." The arguments confounded my conscience:
no matter. "Thy hand is heavy upon me": no matter still. Cut, strike,
consume; provided it procure my salvation.

But, however criminal this delay may be, we seem desirous to excuse
it. "Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will
call for thee." It was Felix's business then which induced him to
put off the apostle. Unhappy business! Awful occupation! It seems
an enviable situation, my brethren, to be placed at the head of a
province; to speak in the language of majesty; to decide on the
fortunes of a numerous people; and in all cases to be the ultimate
judge. But those situations, so happy and so dazzling in appearance,
are in the main dangerous to the conscience. Those innumerable
concerns, this noise and bustle, entirely dissipate the soul. While so
much engaged on earth, we can not be mindful of heaven. When we have
no leisure we say to St. Paul, "Go thy way for this time; when I have
a convenient season, I will call for thee."

Happy he who, amid the tumult of the most active life, has hours
consecrated to reflection, to the examination of his conscience, and
to insure the "one thing needful." Or, rather, happy he who, in the
repose of the middle classes of society,--places between indigence and
affluence, far from the courts of the great, having neither poverty
nor riches according to Agur's wish,--can in retirement and quietness
see life sweetly glide away, and make salvation, if not the sole, yet
his principal, concern.

Felix not only preferred his business to his salvation, but he
mentions it with evasive disdain. "When I have a convenient season, I
will call for thee." "When I have a convenient season!" Might we not
thence infer that the truths discust by St. Paul were not of serious
importance? Might we not infer that the soul of Felix was created
for the government of Judea; and that the grand doctrines of
righteousness, temperance, and a judgment to come ought to serve
at most but to pass away the time, or merely to engross one's
leisure--"when I have a convenient season?" ...

Yes, Christians, this is the only moment on which we can reckon. It
is, perhaps, the only acceptable time. It is, perhaps, the last day of
our visitation. Let us improve a period so precious. Let us no
longer say by and by--at another time; but let us say to-day--this
moment--even now. Let the pastor say: I have been insipid in my
sermons, and remiss in my conduct; having been more solicitous, during
the exercise of my ministry, to advance my family than to build up the
Lord's house, I will preach hereafter with fervor and zeal. I will be
vigilant, sober, rigorous, and disinterested. Let the miser say: I
have riches ill acquired. I will purge my house of illicit wealth. I
will overturn the altar of Mammon and erect another to the supreme
Jehovah. Let the prodigal say: I will extinguish the unhappy fires by
which I am consumed and kindle in my bosom the flame of divine love.
Ah, unhappy passions, which war against my soul; sordid attachments;
irregular propensities; emotions of concupiscence; law in the
members,--I will know you no more. I will make with you an eternal
divorce, I will from this moment open my heart to the eternal Wisdom,
who condescends to ask it.

If we are in this happy disposition, if we thus become regenerate, we
shall enjoy from this moment foretastes of the glory which God has
prepared. From this moment the truths of religion, so far from casting
discouragement and terror on the soul, shall heighten its consolation
and joy; from this moment heaven shall open to this audience, paradise
shall descend into your hearts, and the Holy Spirit shall come and
dwell there. He will bring that peace, and those joys, which pass all




Jonathan Edwards, the New England divine and metaphysician, was born
at East Windsor, Connecticut, in 1703. He was graduated early from
Yale College, where he had given much attention to philosophy, became
tutor of his college, and at nineteen began to preach. His voice and
manner did not lend themselves readily to pulpit oratory, but his
clear, logical, and intense presentation of the truth produced a
profound and permanent effect upon his hearers. He wrote what were
considered the most important philosophical treatises of his time. His
place among the thinkers of the world is high and indisputable. He had
many gifts of intellect and imagination, and a uniform gravity that
left no doubt as to his deeply earnest nature. He was one of the
greatest preachers of his age. His most widely quoted sermon, "Sinners
in the Eyes of an Angry God," while powerful and impressive, does not
do him justice. It is believed the sermon presented here discloses to
greater advantage the tender and saintly side of his character. He
died in 1758.




_And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon
Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my
Father which is in heaven._--Matthew xvi., 17.

Christ says these words to Peter upon occasion of his professing
his faith in Him as the Son of God. Our Lord was inquiring of His
disciples, who men said He was; not that He needed to be informed, but
only to introduce and give occasion to what follows. They answer,
that some said He was John the Baptist, and some Elias, and others
Jeremias, or one of the prophets. When they had thus given an account
of who others said He was, Christ asks them, who they said He was?
Simon Peter, whom we find always zealous and forward, was the first to
answer: he readily replied to the question, Thou art Christ, the Son
of the living God.

Upon this occasion Christ says as He does to him, and of him in the
text: in which we may observe,

1. That Peter is pronounced blest on this account. "Blessed art
Thou."--"Thou art a happy man, that thou art not ignorant of this,
that I am Christ, the Son of the living God. Thou art distinguishingly
happy. Others are blinded, and have dark and deluded apprehensions, as
you have now given an account, some thinking that I am Elias, and some
that I am Jeremias, and some one thing and some another; but none of
them thinking right, all of them misled. Happy art thou, that art so
distinguished as to know the truth in this matter."

2. The evidence of this his happiness declared; viz., that God, and He
only, had revealed it to him. This is an evidence of his being blest.

First. As it shows how peculiarly favored he was of God above others:
"How highly favored art thou, that others that are wise and great men,
the scribes, Pharisees, and rulers, and the nation in general, are
left in darkness, to follow their own misguided apprehensions; and
that thou shouldst be singled out, as it were, by name, that my
heavenly Father should thus set His love on thee, Simon Barjona. This
argues thee blest, that thou shouldst thus be the object of God's
distinguishing love."

Secondly. It evidences his blessedness also, as it intimates that this
knowledge is above any that flesh and blood can reveal. "This is such
knowledge as my Father which is in heaven only can give: it is too
high and excellent to be communicated by such means as other knowledge
is. Thou art blest, that thou knowest that which God alone can teach

The original of this knowledge is here declared, both negatively and
positively. Positively, as God is here declared the author of it.
Negatively, as it is declared, that flesh and blood had not revealed
it. God is the author of all knowledge and understanding whatsoever.
He is the author of the knowledge that is obtained by human learning:
He is the author of all moral prudence, and of the knowledge and skill
that men have in their secular business. Thus it is said of all in
Israel that were wise-hearted, and skilful in embroidering, that God
had filled them with the spirit of wisdom. (Exod. xxviii., 3.)

God is the author of such knowledge; but yet not so but that flesh and
blood reveals it. Mortal men are capable of imparting that knowledge
of human arts and sciences, and skill in temporal affairs. God is the
author of such knowledge by those means: flesh and blood is made use
of by God as the mediate or second cause of it; he conveys it by the
power and influence of natural means. But this spiritual knowledge,
spoken of in the text, is that God is the author of, and none else:
he reveals it, and flesh and blood reveals it not. He imparts this
knowledge immediately, not making use of any intermediate natural
causes, as he does in other knowledge. What has passed in the
preceding discourse naturally occasioned Christ to observe this;
because the disciples had been telling how others did not know Him,
but were generally mistaken about Him, and divided and confounded in
their opinions of Him: but Peter had declared his assured faith, that
He was the Son of God. Now it was natural to observe, how it was not
flesh and blood that had revealed it to him, but God: for if this
knowledge were dependent on natural causes or means, how came it to
pass that they, a company of poor fishermen, illiterate men, and
persons of low education, attained to the knowledge of the truth;
while the scribes and Pharisees, men of vastly higher advantages
and greater knowledge and sagacity in other matters, remained in
ignorance? This could be owing only to the gracious distinguishing
influence and revelation of the Spirit of God. Hence, what I would
make the subject of my present discourse from these words, is this
doctrine. That there is such a thing as a spiritual and divine light,
immediately imparted to the soul by God, of a different nature from
any that is obtained by natural means.

1. Those convictions that natural men may have of their sin and misery
is not this spiritual and divine light. Men in a natural condition may
have convictions of the guilt that lies upon them, and of the anger of
God, and their danger of divine vengeance. Such convictions are from
light or sensibleness of truth. That some sinners have a greater
conviction of their guilt and misery than others, is because some have
more light, or more of an apprehension of truth than others. And
this light and conviction may be from the Spirit of God; the Spirit
convinces men of sin: but yet nature is much more concerned in it than
in the communication of that spiritual and divine light that is spoken
of in the doctrine; it is from the Spirit of God only as assisting
natural principles, and not as infusing any new principles. Common
grace differs from special, in that it influences only by assisting
of nature; and not by imparting grace, or bestowing anything above
nature. The light that is obtained is wholly natural, or of no
superior kind to what mere nature attains to, tho more of that kind be
obtained than would be obtained if men were left wholly to themselves:
or, in other words, common grace only assists the faculties of the
soul to do that more fully which they do by nature, as natural
conscience or reason will by mere nature, make a man sensible of
guilt, and will accuse and condemn him when he has done amiss.
Conscience is a principle natural to men; and the work that it doth
naturally, or of itself, is to give an apprehension of right and
wrong, and to suggest to the mind the relation that there is between
right and wrong and a retribution. The Spirit of God, in those
convictions which unregenerate men sometimes have, assist conscience
to do this work in a further degree than it would do if they were left
to themselves: He helps it against those things that tend to stupify
it, and obstruct its exercise. But in the renewing and sanctifying
work of the Holy Ghost, those things are wrought in the soul that are
above nature, and of which there is nothing of the like kind in the
soul by nature; and they are caused to exist in the soul habitually,
and according to such a stated constitution or law that lays such
a foundation of exercises in a continued course, as is called a
principal of nature. Not only are remaining principles assisted to do
their work more freely and fully, but those principles are restored
that were utterly destroyed by the fall; and the mind thenceforward
habitually exerts those acts that the dominion of sin has made it as
wholly destitute of, as a dead body is of vital acts.

The Spirit of God acts in a very different manner in the one case,
from what He doth in the other. He may indeed act upon the mind of a
natural man, but He acts in the mind of a saint as an indwelling vital
principle. He acts upon the mind of an unregenerate person as an
extrinsic, occasional agent; for in acting upon them, He doth not
unite Himself to them; for notwithstanding all His influences that
they may be the subjects of, they are still sensual, having not the
Spirit (Jude 19). But He unites Himself with the mind of a saint,
takes him for his temple, actuates and influences him as a new
supernatural principle of life and action. There is this difference,
that the Spirit of God, in acting in the soul of a godly man, exerts
and communicates Himself there in his own proper nature. Holiness is
the proper nature of the spirit of God. The Holy Spirit operates in
the minds of the godly, by uniting Himself to them, and living in
them, and exerting His own nature in the exercise of their faculties.
The Spirit of God may act upon a creature, and yet not in acting
communicate Himself. The Spirit of God may act upon inanimate
creatures; as, the Spirit moved upon the face of the waters, in the
beginning of the creation; so the Spirit of God may act upon the minds
of men many ways, and communicate Himself no more than when He acts
upon an inanimate creature. For instance, He may excite thoughts in
them, may assist their natural reason and understanding, or may assist
other natural principles, and this without any union with the soul,
but may act, as it were, as upon an external object. But as He acts
in His holy influences and spiritual operations, He acts in a way
of peculiar communication of Himself; so that the subject is thence
denominated spiritual.

This spiritual and divine light does not consist in any impression
made upon the imagination. It is no impression upon the mind, as tho
one saw anything with the bodily eyes: it is no imagination or idea of
an outward light or glory or any beauty of form or countenance, or a
visible luster or brightness of any object. The imagination may be
strongly imprest with such things; but this is not spiritual light.
Indeed, when the mind has a lively discovery of spiritual things, and
is greatly affected by the power of divine light, it may, and probably
very commonly doth, much affect the imagination; so that impressions
of an outward beauty or brightness may accompany those spiritual
discoveries. But spiritual light is not that impression upon the
imagination, but an exceeding different thing from it. Natural men
may have lively impressions on their imaginations; and we can not
determine but the devil, who transforms himself into an angel of
light, may cause imaginations of an outward beauty, or visible glory,
and of sounds and speeches, and other such things; but these are
things of a vastly inferior nature to spiritual light.

This spiritual light is not the suggesting of any new truths or
propositions not contained in the Word of God. This suggesting of
new truths or doctrines to the mind, independent of any antecedent
revelation of those propositions, either in word or writing, is
inspiration; such as the prophets and apostles had, and such as some
enthusiasts pretend to. But this spiritual light that I am speaking
of is quite a different thing from inspiration; it reveals no new
doctrine, it suggests no new proposition to the mind, it teaches no
new thing of God, or Christ, or another world, not taught in the
Bible, but only gives a due apprehension of those things that are
taught in the Word of God.

It is not every affecting view that men have of the things of religion
that is this spiritual and divine light. Men by mere principles of
nature are capable of being affected with things that have a special
relation to religion as well as other things. A person by mere nature,
for instance, may be liable to be affected with the story of Jesus
Christ, and the sufferings He underwent, as well as by any other
tragical story; he may be the more affected with it from the interest
he conceives mankind to have in it; yea, he may be affected with it
without believing it; as well as a man may be affected with what he
reads in a romance, or sees acted in a stage play. He may be affected
with a lively and eloquent description of many pleasant things that
attend the state of the blest in heaven, as well as his imagination
be entertained by a romantic description of the pleasantness of
fairy-land, or the like. And that common-belief of the truth of the
things of religion, that persons may have from education or otherwise,
may help forward their affection. We read in Scripture of many that
were greatly affected with things of a religious nature, who yet are
there presented as wholly graceless, and many of them very ill men. A
person therefore may have affecting views of religion, and yet be very
destitute of spiritual light. Flesh and blood may be the author of
this; one man may give another an affecting view of divine things but
common assistance: but God alone can give a spiritual discovery of

But I proceed to show positively what this spiritual and divine light

And it may be thus described: a true sense of the divine excellency of
the things revealed in the Word of God, and a conviction of the truth
and reality of them thence arising.

This spiritual light primarily consists in the former of these--viz.,
a real sense and apprehension of the divine excellency of things
revealed in the Word of God. A spiritual and saving conviction of the
truth and reality of these things arises from such a sight of their
divine excellency and glory; so that this conviction of their truth is
an effect and natural consequence of this sight of their divine glory.
There is therefore in this spiritual light,

1. A true sense of the divine and superlative excellency of the things
of religion; a real sense of the excellency of God and Jesus Christ,
and of the work of redemption, and the ways and works of God revealed
in the gospel. There is a divine and superlative glory in these
things; an excellency that is of a vastly higher kind, and more
sublime nature than in other things; a glory greatly distinguishing
them from all that is earthly and temporal. He that is spiritually
enlightened truly apprehends and sees it, or has a sense of it. He
does not merely rationally believe that God is glorious, but he has
a sense of the gloriousness of God in his heart. There is not only a
rational belief that is holy, and that holiness is a good thing, but
there is a sense of the loveliness of God's holiness. There is not
only a speculative judging that God is gracious, but a sense how
amiable God is upon that account, or a sense of the beauty of this
divine attribute.

There is a twofold understanding or knowledge of good that God has
made the mind of man capable of. The first, that which is merely
speculative and notional; as when a person only speculatively judges
that anything is, which, by the agreement of mankind, is called good
or excellent, viz., that which is most to general advantage, and
between which and a reward there is a suitableness, and the like. And
the other is, that which consists in the sense of the heart: as when
there is a sense of the beauty, amiableness, or sweetness of a thing;
so that the heart is sensible of pleasure and delight in the presence
of the idea of it. In the former is exercised merely the speculative
faculty, or the understanding, strictly so called, or as spoken of in
distinction from the will or disposition of the soul. In the latter,
the will, or inclination, or heart is mainly concerned.

Thus there is a difference between having an opinion that God is holy
and gracious, and having a sense of the loveliness and beauty of that
holiness and grace. There is a difference between having a rational
judgment that honey is sweet, and having a sense of its sweetness. A
man may have the former that knows not how honey tastes; but a man can
not have the latter unless he has an idea of the taste of honey in
his mind. So there is a difference between believing that a person is
beautiful and having a sense of his beauty. The former may be obtained
by hearsay, but the latter only by seeing the countenance. There is a
wide difference between mere speculative rational judging anything
to be excellent, and having a sense of its sweetness and beauty. The
former rests only in the head, speculation only is concerned in it;
but the heart is concerned in the latter. When the heart is sensible
of the beauty and amiableness of a thing, it necessarily feels
pleasure in the apprehension. It is implied in a person's being
heartily sensible of the loveliness of a thing, that the idea of it is
sweet and pleasant to his soul; which is a far different thing from
having a rational opinion that it is excellent.

2. There arises from this sense of divine excellency of things
contained in the word of God a conviction of the truth and reality of
them; and that either directly or indirectly.

First, indirectly, and that two ways.

(1) As the prejudices that are in the heart, against the truth of
divine things, are hereby removed; so that the mind becomes susceptive
of the due force of rational arguments for their truth. The mind
of man is naturally full of prejudices against the truth of divine
things: it is full of enmity against the doctrines of the gospel;
which is a disadvantage to those arguments that prove their truth, and
causes them to lose their force upon the mind. But when a person has
discovered to him the divine excellency of Christian doctrines, this
destroys the enmity, removes those prejudices, and sanctifies the
reason, and causes it to lie open to the force of arguments for their

Hence was the different effect that Christ's miracles had to convince
the disciples from what they had to convince the scribes and
Pharisees. Not that they had a stronger reason, or had their reason
more improved; but their reason was sanctified, and those blinding
prejudices, that the scribes and Pharisees were under, were removed by
the sense they had of the excellency of Christ and His doctrine.

(2) It not only removes the hindrances of reason, but positively helps
reason. It makes even the speculative notions the more lively. It
engages the attention of the mind, with the more fixedness and
intenseness to that kind of objects; which causes it to have a
clearer view of them, and enables it more clearly to see their mutual
relations, and occasions it to take more notice of them. The ideas
themselves that otherwise are dim and obscure, are by this means
imprest with the greater strength, and have a light cast upon them, so
that the mind can better judge of them; as he that beholds the objects
on the face of the earth, when the light of the sun is cast upon them,
is under greater advantage to discern them in their true forms and
mutual relations, than he that sees them in a dim starlight or

The mind having a sensibleness of the excellency of divine objects,
dwells upon them with delight; and the powers of the soul are more
awakened and enlivened to employ themselves in the contemplation of
them, and exert themselves more fully and much more to the purpose.
The beauty and sweetness of the objects draw on the faculties, and
draw forth their exercises; so that reason itself is under far greater
advantages for its proper and free exercises, and to attain its proper
end, free of darkness and delusion.

Secondly. A true sense of the divine excellency of these things is so
superlative as more directly and immediately to convince of the
truth of them; and that because the excellency of these things is so
superlative. There is a beauty in them that is so divine and godlike,
that it greatly and evidently distinguishes them from things merely
human, or that men are the inventors and authors of; a glory that is
so high and great, that when clearly seen, it commands assent to their
divinity and reality. When there is an actual and lively discovery of
this beauty and excellency, it will not allow of any such thought
as that it is a human work, or the fruit of men's invention. This
evidence that they who are spiritually enlightened have of the truth
of the things of religion, is a kind of intuitive and immediate
evidence. They believe the doctrines of God's word to be divine,
because they see divinity in them; _i.e._, they see a divine, and
transcendent, and most evidently distinguishing glory in them; such a
glory as, if clearly seen, does not leave room to doubt of their being
of God, and not of men.

Such a conviction of the truth of religion as this, arising, these
ways, from a sense of the divine excellency of them, is that true
spiritual conviction that there is in saving faith. And this original
of it, is that by which it is most essentially distinguished from that
common assent, which unregenerated men are capable of.

I proceed now to show how this light is immediately given by God, and
not obtained by natural means.

1. It is not intended that the natural faculties are not made use of
in it. The natural faculties are the subject of this light: and they
are the subject in such a manner that they are not merely passive,
but active in it; the acts and exercises of men's understanding are
concerned and made use of in it. God, in letting in this light into
the soul, deals with man according to his nature, or as a rational
creature; and makes use of his human faculties. But yet this light is
not the less immediately from God for that; tho the faculties are made
use of, it is as the subject and not as the cause; and that acting of
the faculties in it is not the cause, but is either implied in the
thing itself (in the light that is imparted) or is the consequence of
it; as the use that we make of our eyes in beholding various objects,
when the sun arises, is not the cause of the light that discovers
those objects to us.

2. It is not intended that outward means have no concern in this
affair. As I have observed already, it is not in this affair, as it is
in inspiration, where new truths are suggested: for here is by this
light only given a due apprehension of the same truths that are
revealed in the word of God; and therefore it is not given without
the word. The gospel is made use of in this affair: this light is the
light of the glorious gospel of Christ. (II Cor. iv., 4.) The gospel
is as a glass, by which this light is conveyed to us (I Cor. xiii.,
12). Now we see through a glass.

3. When it is said that this light is given immediately by God, and
not obtained by natural means, hereby is intended that it is given by
God without making use of any means that operate by their own power,
or a natural force. God makes use of means; but it is not as mediate
causes to produce this effect. There are not truly any second causes
of it; but it is produced by God immediately. The Word of God is no
proper cause of this effect: it does not operate by any natural force
in it. The Word of God is only made use of to convey to the mind the
subject matter of this saving instruction, and this indeed it doth
convey to us by natural force or influence. It conveys to our minds
these and those doctrines; it is the cause of the notion of them in
our heads, but not of the sense of the divine excellency of them in
our hearts. Indeed, a person can not have spiritual light without the
Word. But that does not argue that the Word properly causes the light
The mind can not see the excellency of any doctrine unless that
doctrine be first in the mind; but the seeing of the excellency of the
doctrine may be immediately from the Spirit of God; tho the conveying
of the doctrine or proposition itself may be by the Word. So that the
notions that are the subject-matter of this light are conveyed to the
mind by the Word of God; but that due sense of the heart, wherein this
light formally consists, is immediately by the Spirit of God. As for
instance, that notion that there is a Christ, and that Christ is holy
and gracious, is conveyed to the mind by the Word of God; but the
sense of the excellency of Christ by reason of that holiness and
grace, is nevertheless immediately the work of the Holy Spirit.

This is the most excellent and divine wisdom that any creature is
capable of. It is more excellent than any human learning; it is far
more excellent than all the knowledge of the greatest philosophers or
statesmen. Yea, the least glimpse of the glory of God in the face of
Christ doth more exalt and ennoble the soul than all the knowledge of
those that have the greatest speculative understanding in divinity
without grace. This knowledge has the most noble object that is or
can be, viz., the divine glory or excellency of God and Christ. The
knowledge of these objects is that wherein consists the most excellent
knowledge of the angels, yea, of God himself.

This knowledge is that which is above all others sweet and joyful.
Men have a great deal of pleasure in human knowledge, in studies of
natural things; but this is nothing to that joy which arises from this
divine light shining into the soul. This light gives a view of those
that are immensely the most exquisitely beautiful, and capable of
delighting the eye of the understanding. This spiritual light is
the dawning of the light of glory in the heart. There is nothing so
powerful as this to support persons in affliction, and to give the
mind peace and brightness in this stormy and dark world.

This light is such as effectually influences the inclination, and
changes the nature of the soul. It assimilates the human nature to the
divine nature, and changes the soul into an image of the same glory
that is beheld (II Cor. iii., 18), "But we all with open face,
beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the
same image, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord."
This knowledge will wean from the world, and raise the inclination
to heavenly things. It will turn the heart to God as the fountain of
good, and to choose him for the only portion. This light, and this
only, will bring the soul to a saving close with Christ. It conforms
the heart to the gospel, mortifies its enmity and opposition against
the schemes of salvation therein revealed: it causes the heart to
embrace the joyful tidings, and entirely to adhere to, and acquiesce
in the revelation of Christ as our Savior: it causes the whole soul
to accord and symphonize with it, admitting it with entire credit and
respect; cleaving to it with full inclination and affection; and it
effectually disposes the soul to give up itself entirely to Christ.

This light, and this only, has its fruit in a universal holiness of
life. No merely notional or speculative understanding of the doctrines
of religion will ever bring us to this. But this light, as it
reaches the bottom of the heart, and changes the nature, so it
will effectually dispose to a universal obedience. It shows God's
worthiness to be obeyed and served. It draws forth the heart in a
sincere love to God, which is the only principle of a true, gracious,
and universal obedience; and it convinces of the reality of those
glorious rewards that God has promised to them that obey him.




John Wesley was born at Epworth rectory in Lincolnshire, England,
in 1703. He was educated at Charterhouse school and in 1720 entered
Christ Church College, Oxford, where he graduated in 1724. He was
noted for his classical taste as well as for his religious fervor, and
on being ordained deacon by Bishop Potter, of Oxford, he became his
father's curate in 1727. Being recalled to Oxford to fulfil his duties
as fellow of Lincoln he became the head of the Oxford "Methodists," as
they were called. He had the characteristics of a great general, being
systematic in his work and a lover of discipline, and established
Methodism in London by his sermons at the Foundery. His speaking style
suggested power in repose. His voice was clear and resonant, his
countenance kindly, and his tone extremely moderate. His sermons wore
carefully written, altho not read in the pulpit. They moved others
because he was himself moved. At an advanced age he preached several
times a day, and traveled many miles on horseback. At seventy years
of age he had published thirty octavo volumes. He composed hymns on
horseback, and studied French and mathematics in spare hours, and was
never a moment idle until his death, in 1791.




_Not as the transgression, so is the free gift_.--Romans v., 15.

How exceedingly common, and how bitter is the outcry against our first
parent, for the mischief which he not only brought upon himself, but
entailed upon his latest posterity! It was by his wilful rebellion
against God "that sin entered into the world." "By one man's
disobedience," as the apostle observes, the many, as many as were then
in the loins of their forefathers, were made, or constituted sinners:
not only deprived of the favor of God, but also of His image; of all
virtue, righteousness, and true holiness, and sunk partly into the
image of the devil, in pride, malice, and all other diabolical
tempers; partly into the image of the brute, being fallen under the
dominion of brutal passions and groveling appetites. Hence also death
entered into the world, with all his forerunners and attendants; pain,
sickness, and a whole train of uneasy as well as unholy passions and

"For all this we may thank Adam," has been echoed down from generation
to generation. The self-same charge has been repeated in every age and
every nation where the oracles of God are known, in which alone this
grand and important event has been discovered to the children of men.
Has not your heart, and probably your lips too, joined in the general
charge? How few are there of those who believe the Scriptural relation
of the Fall of Man, and have not entertained the same thought
concerning our first parent? severely condemning him, that, through
wilful disobedience to the sole command of his Creator,

Brought death into the world and all our wo.

Nay, it were well if the charge rested here: but it is certain it does
not. It can not be denied that it frequently glances from Adam to his
Creator. Have not thousands, even of those that are called Christians,
taken the liberty to call His mercy, if not His justice also, into
question, on this very account? Some indeed have done this a little
more modestly, in an oblique and indirect manner: but others have
thrown aside the mask, and asked, "Did not God foresee that Adam would
abuse his liberty? And did He not know the baneful consequences which
this must naturally have on all his posterity? And why then did He
permit that disobedience? Was it not easy for the Almighty to have
prevented it?" He certainly did foresee the whole. This can not be
denied. "For known unto God are all His works from the beginning of
the world." And it was undoubtedly in His Power to prevent it; for He
hath all power both in heaven and earth. But it was known to Him at
the same time, that it was best upon the whole not to prevent it. He
knew that, "not as the transgression, so is the free gift"; that the
evil resulting from the former was not as the good resulting from the
latter, not worthy to be compared with it. He saw that to permit
the fall of the first man was far best for mankind in general; that
abundantly more good than evil would accrue to the posterity of Adam
by his fall; that if "sin abounded" thereby over all the earth, yet
grace "would much more abound"; yea, and that to every individual of
the human race, unless it was his own choice.

It is exceedingly strange that hardly anything has been written, or
at least published, on this subject: nay, that it has been so little
weighed or understood by the generality of Christians: especially
considering that it is not a matter of mere curiosity, but a truth of
the deepest importance; it being impossible, on any other principle,

To assert a gracious Providence,
And justify the ways of God with men:

and considering withal, how plain this important truth is, to all
sensible and candid inquirers. May the Lover of men open the eyes
of our understanding, to perceive clearly that by the fall of Adam
mankind in general have gained a capacity,

First, of being more holy and happy on earth, and,

Secondly, of being more happy in heaven than otherwise they could have

And, first, mankind in general have gained by the fall of Adam a
capacity of attaining more holiness and happiness on earth than it
would have been possible for them to attain if Adam had not fallen.
For if Adam had not fallen, Christ had not died. Nothing can be more
clear than this: nothing more undeniable: the more thoroughly we
consider the point, the more deeply shall we be convinced of it.
Unless all the partakers of human nature had received that deadly
wound in Adam it would not have been needful for the Son of God to
take our nature upon Him. Do you not see that this was the very ground
of His coming into the world? "By one man sin entered into the world,
and death by sin. And thus death passed upon all" through him, "in
whom all men sinned." (Rom. v., 12.) Was it not to remedy this very
thing that "the Word was made flesh"? that "as in Adam all died, so
in Christ all might be made alive"? Unless, then, many had been made
sinners by the disobedience of one, by the obedience of one many would
not have been made righteous (ver. 18); so there would have been no
room for that amazing display of the Son of God's love to mankind.
There would have been no occasion for His "being obedient unto death,
even the death of the cross." It would not then have been said, to the
astonishment of all the hosts of heaven, "God so loved the world,"
yea, the ungodly world, which had no thought or desire of returning to
Him, "that he gave his Son" out of His bosom, His only begotten Son,
to the end that "whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but
have everlasting life." Neither could we then have said, "God was in
Christ reconciling the world to himself"; or that He "made him to be
sin," that is, a sin-offering "for us, who know no sin, that we might
be made the righteousness of God through him." There would have been
no such occasion for such "an advocate with the Father" as "Jesus
Christ the Righteous"; neither for His appearing "at the right hand of
God, to make intercession for us."

What is the necessary consequence of this? It is this: there could
then have been no such thing as faith in God, thus loving the world,
giving His only Son for us men, and for our salvation. There could
have been no such thing as faith in the Son of God, as loving us and
giving Himself for us. There could have been no faith in the Spirit of
God, as renewing the image of God in our hearts, as raising us from
the death of sin unto the life of righteousness. Indeed, the whole
privilege of justification by faith could have no existence; there
could have been no redemption in the blood of Christ: neither could
Christ have been "made of God unto us," "wisdom, righteousness,
sanctification, or redemption."

And the same grand blank which was in our faith, must likewise have
been in our love. We might have loved the Author of our being, the
Father of angels and men, as our Creator and Preserver: we might have
said, "O Lord our Governor, how excellent is Thy name in all the
earth!" But we could not have loved Him under the nearest and dearest
relation, as delivering up His Son for us all. We might have loved
the Son of God, as being the "brightness of his Father's glory," the
express image of His person (altho this ground seems to belong rather
to the inhabitants of heaven than earth). But we could not have loved
Him as "bearing our sins in his own body on the tree," and "by
that one oblation of himself once offered, making a full oblation,
sacrifice, and satisfaction for the sins of the whole world." We would
not have been "made conformable to his death," nor have known "the
power of his resurrection." We could not have loved the Holy Ghost as
revealing to us the Father and the Son, as opening the eyes of our
understanding, bringing us out of darkness into His marvelous light,
renewing the image of God in our soul, and sealing us unto the day of
redemption. So that, in truth, what is now "in the sight of God, even
the Father," not of fallible men "pure religion and undefiled," would
then, have had no being: inasmuch as it wholly depends on those grand
principles, "By grace ye are saved through faith"; and "Jesus Christ
is of God made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification,
and redemption."

We see then what unspeakable advantage we derive from the fall of our
first parent, with regard to faith: faith both in God the Father,
who spared not His own Son, His only Son, but wounded Him for our
transgressions and bruised Him for our iniquities; and in God the Son,
who poured out His soul for us transgressors, and washed us in His own
blood. We see what advantage we derive therefrom with regard to the
love of God, both of God the Father and God the Son. The chief ground
of this love, as long as we remain in the body, is plainly declared
by the apostle, "We love him, because he first loved us." But the
greatest instance of His love had never been given if Adam had not

And as our faith, both in God the Father and the Son, receives an
unspeakable increase, if not its very being, from this grand event, as
does also our love both of the Father and the Son: so does the love of
our neighbor also, our benevolence to all mankind: which can not but
increase in the same proportion with our faith and love of God. For
who does not apprehend the force of that inference drawn by the loving
apostle, "Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one
another." If God so loved us--observe, the stress of the argument lies
on this very point: so loved us! as to deliver up His only Son to die
a curst death for our salvation. "Beloved, what manner of love is
this," wherewith God hath loved us? So as to give His only Son! In
glory equal with the Father: in majesty coeternal! What manner of love
is this wherewith the only begotten Son of God hath loved us, as to
empty Himself, as far as possible, of His eternal Godhead; as to
divest Himself of that glory, which He had with the Father before the
world began; as to take upon Him "the form of a servant, being found
in fashion as a man"! And then to humble Himself still further, "being
obedient unto death, even the death of the cross"! If God so loved us,
how ought we to love one another? But this motive to brotherly love
had been totally wanting if Adam had not fallen. Consequently we could
not then have loved one another in so high a degree as we may now.
Nor could there have been that height and depth in the command of our
blest Lord. "As I have loved you, so love one another."

Such gainers may we be by Adam's fall, with regard both to the love of
God and of our neighbor. But there is another grand point, which, tho
little adverted to, deserves our deepest consideration. By that one
act of our first parent, not only "sin entered into the world," but
pain also, and was alike entailed on his whole posterity. And herein
appeared, not only the justice, but the unspeakable goodness of God.
For how much good does He continually bring out of this evil! How much
holiness and happiness out of pain!

How innumerable are the benefits which God conveys to the children of
men through the channel of sufferings! so that it might well be said,
"What are termed afflictions in the language of men, are in the
language of God styled blessings." Indeed, had there been no suffering
in the world, a considerable part of religion, yea, and in some
respects, the most excellent part, could have no place therein: since
the very existence of it depends on our suffering: so that had there
been no pain it could have had no being. Upon this foundation, even
our suffering, it is evident all our passive graces are built; yea,
the noblest of all Christian graces, love enduring all things. Here is
the ground for resignation to God, enabling us to say from the heart,
and in every trying hour, "It is the Lord: let him do what seemeth him
good." "Shall we receive good at the hand of the Lord, and shall we
not receive evil?" And what a glorious spectacle is this? Did it not
constrain even a heathen to cry out, "_Ecce spectaculum Deo dignum!_
See a sight worthy of God: a good man struggling with adversity, and
superior to it." Here is the ground for confidence in God, both with
regard to what we feel, and with regard to what we should fear, were
it not that our soul is calmly stayed on him. What room could there
be for trust in God if there was no such thing as pain or danger? Who
might not say then, "The cup which my Father hath given me, shall
I not drink it?" It is by sufferings that our faith is tried, and,
therefore, made more acceptable to God. It is in the day of trouble
that we have occasion to say, "Tho he slay me, yet will I trust in
him." And this is well pleasing to God, that we should own Him in the
face of danger; in defiance of sorrow, sickness, pain, or death.

Again: Had there been neither natural nor moral evil in the
world, what must have become of patience, meekness, gentleness,
long-suffering? It is manifest they could have had no being: seeing
all these have evil for their object. If, therefore, evil had never
entered into the world, neither could these have had any place in it.
For who could have returned good for evil, had there been no evil-doer
in the universe? How had it been possible, on that supposition, to
overcome evil with good? Will you say, "But all these graces might
have been divinely infused into the hearts of men?" Undoubtedly they
might: but if they had, there would have been no use or exercise for
them. Whereas in the present state of things we can never long want
occasion to exercise them. And the more they are exercised, the
more all our graces are strengthened and increased. And in the same
proportion as our resignation, our confidence in God, our patience and
fortitude, our meekness, gentleness, and long-suffering, together
with our faith and love of God and man increase, must our happiness
increase, even in the present world.

Yet again: As God's permission of Adam's fall gave all his posterity
a thousand opportunities of suffering, and thereby of exercising all
those passive graces which increase both their holiness and happiness,
so it gives them opportunities of doing good in numberless instances,
of exercising themselves in various good works, which otherwise could
have had no being. And what exertions of benevolence, of compassion,
of godlike mercy, had then been totally prevented! Who could then have
said to the lover of men,

Thy mind throughout my life be shown,
While listening to the wretches' cry,
The widow's or the orphan's groan;
On mercy's wings I swiftly fly
The poor and needy to relieve;
Myself, my all, for them to give?

It is the just observation of a benevolent man,

--All worldly joys are less,
Than that one joy of doing kindnesses.

Surely in keeping this commandment, if no other, there is great
reward. "As we have time, let us do good unto all men;" good of every
kind and in every degree. Accordingly the more good we do (other
circumstances being equal), the happier we shall be. The more we deal
our bread to the hungry, and cover the naked with garments; the more
we relieve the stranger, and visit them that are sick or in prison;
the more kind offices we do to those that groan under the various
evils of human life; the more comfort we receive even in the present
world; the greater the recompense we have in our own bosom.

To sum up what has been said under this head: As the more holy we are
upon earth, the more happy we must be (seeing there is an inseparable
connection between holiness and happiness); as the more good we do to
others, the more of present reward rebounds into our own bosom:
even as our sufferings for God lead us to rejoice in Him "with joy
unspeakable and full of glory"; therefore, the fall of Adam, first, by
giving us an opportunity of being far more holy; secondly, by giving
us the occasions of doing innumerable good works, which otherwise
could not have been done; and, thirdly, by putting it into our power
to suffer for God, whereby "the spirit of glory and of God rests upon
us": may be of such advantage to the children of men, even in the
present life, as they will not thoroughly comprehend till they attain
life everlasting.

It is then we shall be enabled fully to comprehend not only the
advantages which accrue at the present time to the sons of men by the
fall of their first parent, but the infinitely greater advantages
which they may reap from it in eternity. In order to form some
conception of this, we may remember the observation of the apostle,
"As one star differeth from another star in glory, so also is the
resurrection of the dead." The most glorious stars will undoubtedly
be those who are the most holy; who bear most of that image of God
wherein they were created. The next in glory to these will be those
who have been most abundant in good works: and next to them, those
that have suffered most, according to the will of God. But what
advantages in every one of these respects will the children of God
receive in heaven, by God's permitting the introduction of pain upon
earth, in consequence of sin? By occasion of this they attained many
holy tempers, which otherwise could have had no being: resignation
to God, confidence in him in times of trouble and danger, patience,
meekness, gentleness, long-suffering, and the whole train of passive
virtues. And on account of this superior holiness they will then
enjoy superior happiness. Again: every one will then "receive his
own reward, according to his own labor." Every individual will
be "rewarded according to his work." But the Fall gave rise to
innumerable good works, which could otherwise never have existed, such
as ministering to the necessities of the saints, yea, relieving the
distrest in every kind. And hereby innumerable stars will be added to
their eternal crown. Yet again: there will be an abundant reward in
heaven, for suffering as well as for doing, the will of God: "these
light afflictions, which are but for a moment, work out for us a far
more exceeding and eternal weight of glory." Therefore that event,
which occasioned the entrance of suffering into the world, has thereby
occasioned to all the children of God, an increase of glory to all
eternity. For altho the sufferings themselves will be at an end: altho

The pain of life shall then be o'er,
The anguish and distracting care;
The sighing grief shall weep no more;
And sin shall never enter there:--

yet the joys occasioned thereby shall never end, but flow at God's
right hand for evermore.

There is one advantage more that we reap from Adam's fall, which is
not unworthy our attention. Unless in Adam all had died, being in the
loins of their first parent, every descendant of Adam, every child of
man, must have personally answered for himself to God: it seems to
be a necessary consequence of this, that if he had once fallen, once
violated any command of God, there would have been no possibility of
his rising again; there was no help, but he must have perished without
remedy. For that covenant knew not to show mercy: the word was, "The
soul that sinneth, it shall die." Now who would not rather be on the
footing he is now; under a covenant of mercy? Who would wish to hazard
a whole eternity upon one stake? Is it not infinitely more desirable,
to be in a state wherein, tho encompassed with infirmities, yet we
do not run such a desperate risk, but if we fall, we may rise again?
Wherein we may say,

My trespass is grown up to heaven!
But, far above the skies,
In Christ abundantly forgiven,
I see Thy mercies rise!

In Christ! Let me entreat every serious person, once more to fix his
attention here. All that has been said, all that can be said, on these
subjects, centers in this point. The fall of Adam produced the death
of Christ! Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth! Yea,

Let earth and heaven agree,
Angels and men be joined,
To celebrate with me
The Saviour of mankind;
To adore the all-atoning Lamb,
And bless the sound of Jesus' name!

If God had prevented the fall of man, the Word had never been made
flesh: nor had we ever "seen his glory, the glory as of the only
begotten of the Father." Those mysteries had never been displayed,
"which the very angels desire to look into." Methinks this
consideration swallows up all the rest, and should never be out of
our thoughts. Unless "by one man, judgment had come upon all men to
condemnation," neither angels nor men could ever have known "the
unsearchable riches of Christ."

See then, upon the whole, how little reason we have to repine at
the fall of our first parent, since herefrom we may derive such
unspeakable advantages, both in time and eternity. See how small
pretense there is for questioning the mercy of God in permitting
that event to take place, since therein, mercy, by infinite degrees,
rejoices over judgment! Where, then, is the man that presumes to blame
God for not preventing Adam's sin? Should we not rather bless Him from
the ground of the heart, for therein laying the grand scheme of man's
redemption, and making way for that glorious manifestation of His
wisdom, holiness, justice, and mercy? If indeed God had decreed before
the foundation of the world that millions of men should dwell in
everlasting burnings, because Adam sinned, hundreds or thousands of
yours before they had a being, I know not who could thank him for
this, unless the devil and his angels: seeing, on this supposition,
all those millions of unhappy spirits would be plunged into hell by
Adam's sin, without any possible advantage from it. But, blest be God,
this is not the case. Such a decree never existed. On the contrary,
every one born of a woman may be an unspeakable gainer thereby; and
none ever was or can be a loser, but by his own choice.

We see here a full answer to that plausible account "of the origin of
evil," published to the world some years since, and supposed to be
unanswerable: that it "necessarily resulted from the nature of
matter, which God was not able to alter." It is very kind in this
sweet-tongued orator to make an excuse for God! But there is really no
occasion for it: God hath answered for Himself. He made man in His own
image, a spirit endued with understanding and liberty. Man abusing
that liberty, produced evil, brought sin and pain into the world.
This God permitted, in order to a fuller manifestation of His wisdom,
justice, and mercy, by bestowing on all who would receive it an
infinitely greater happiness than they could possibly have attained if
Adam had not fallen.

"Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!"
Altho a thousand particulars of His judgments, and of His ways are
unsearchable to us, and past our finding out, yet we may discern the
general scheme running through time into eternity. "According to the
council of his own will," the plan He had laid before the foundation
of the world, He created the parent of all mankind in His own image.
And He permitted all men to be made sinners by the disobedience of
this one man, that, by the obedience of One, all who receive the free
gift may be infinitely holier and happier to all eternity!




George Whitefield, evangelist and leader of Calvinistic Methodists,
who has been called the Demosthenes of the pulpit, was born at
Gloucester, England, in 1714. He was an impassioned pulpit orator of
the popular type, and his power over immense congregations was largely
due to his histrionic talent and his exquisitely modulated voice,
which has been described as "an organ, a flute, a harp, all in one,"
and which at times became stentorian. He had a most expressive face,
and altho he squinted, in grace and significance of gesture he knew
perfectly how to "suit the action to the word." But he had not the
style or scholarship of Wesley, and his printed sermons do not fully
bear out his reputation. Whitefield died in 1770.


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